Student Teaching: Teaching Your First Classroom
Your student teaching experience is the first step to becoming a transformative teacher. This time in your education (whether through your Bachelors or Master of Arts in Teaching degree) provides you with hands-on experience in the classroom, and allows you to develop your personal teaching style.
Feeling nervous or apprehensive? Totally normal. The following guest post is from
Pro Student Teacher, a blog dedicated to providing aspiring teachers with helpful hints to navigate their student teaching experience and be prepared for their first years of teaching.
After the first week of student teaching, chances are you already know your students’ names, have carefully observed your mentor teacher and participated in engaging icebreakers with the class. Now you should feel ready to roll up your sleeves and start teaching your first lesson. Your mentor teacher makes it all seem so easy. While it may look that way, it is definitely not the case. You may not have the expertise of your mentor teacher, but with practice and determination you will have successful teaching experiences. For that to happen there are several key components that you should keep in mind before teaching your first lesson.
- Backward Design
According to McTighe and Wiggins (Understanding by Design, 1999) the Backward Design Process has three stages.
- Identify your desired results of your lesson.
- Determine your acceptable evidence, and then plan your learning experiences and instruction.
- Formulate your essential questions so at the end of the lesson the students’ responses will represent your desired objective(s).
- Context of Learning
Consider the characteristics of the class. Gender, skill level, experience, diversity and interests are all important factors in planning lessons. Learn about your students so you know how to reach and teach them. Students learn best when the lessons can be applied to their everyday life.
- Planning and Preparation
Be aware of students’ prior knowledge. Identify the information students need to know in order to grasp the concept you aim to teach. Familiarize yourself with the content and look at it through your students’ eyes. Create activities that will engage students in their learning and do not merely regurgitate information. Make sure you think about the possibility of misunderstandings, so you are prepared to adjust and adapt to different learning styles.
Share your lesson plan with your mentor teacher. Discuss whether you have enough information for the lesson, an appropriate time frame for completion, relevant materials for the students, etc. Add revisions and make adjustments based on your mentor’s feedback.
Write out a script for your lesson. It may sound pointless, but writing out a script actually takes away a little bit of the anxiety. Include the statements you plan to make, directions you will give and the questions you will ask. Do a practice dry run in the classroom at the end of the day or in some other quiet place. Consider your tone of voice, the need for eye contact with students, mobility, etc.
Your first lesson is one of the most important lessons you will ever teach. It’s the lesson that builds your self-confidence and officially gets you started on your career pathway. The first lesson solidifies your desire to teach and lets your students see you as someone they can connect with, who can also take charge in their classroom, earn their respect and play an important role in their education.
Getting ready to teach your first lesson is similar to an actor getting ready for opening night. The script is written. You have rehearsed your lines, devised strategies to capture the audience’s attention and have a designated time frame that you’d like to follow. You have even played out the lesson in your mind. As you prepare to teach, you will become that actor. The classroom is your stage and it is now your time to shine.
To assist student teachers in analysis and self-reflection on their student teaching experiences, Pro Student Teacher has an available guidebook entitled “The Journey: From Student Teacher to Professional Educator.” This guidebook also helps them meet the demands of teaching, promotes organization, prepares them for their job search and serves as a resource for their early years in the classroom.